Kerry Scott Baldwin

Kerry Scott Baldwin

How do we communicate? Words and actions. Actions and words. Every form of communication generally fits into these two categories.

It’s been said to choose your words carefully … they define you until actions are observed. And of course we know that actions speak louder than words.

Mother Teresa said, “Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action and that action is service.” Very true.

However, let’s not forget that words are quite powerful, too. What we say or write can make someone else’s whole day full of joy! But our words can also tear at each other’s hearts bringing sadness or anger.

Verbal conversation brings immediate feedback, while emailing, texting and social media can be delayed and are more likely to be misinterpreted. Never underestimate the power of the written word.

Solomon wrote in Proverbs 18:7, “A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul.”

I like how James sums up the matter of taming the tongue. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing. This should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? Can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” (James 3:9-12)

In a very real way, we affect each other by our words and actions. No man is an island! Everyone communicates on a daily basis, sometimes with countless other people. At times we may communicate without even knowing we’re communicating.

Several years ago, a friend of mine bought a brand new SUV. After showing me all the bells and whistles and giving me a demo ride he said, “You gotta drive it!” I was excited, but also a little nervous. After all, what if some fluke happened and I was responsible for body damage to his new truck. That would be bad.

Likewise, we can literally cause body damage to others. Wouldn’t it be terrible to discourage another person from the kingdom, whether it be knowingly or unknowingly. Profanity, gossip, put-downs, and pessimism as opposed to uplifting words, praise, compliments, and optimism. We must be very careful with our words and actions.

“I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” (Matthew 12:36)

We are each individually responsible for all that we say and do. There are some things in life where nobody else can cover for us. Our characters are one such example. The good news is that Jesus is right there as our advocate. We only need to accept His saving grace.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:16-17)

Life certainly has its share of challenges. Paying attention to our words and actions is no exception. May we be hearers and doers of God’s Word.

Hopefully, our words and actions will reflect the character of Jesus Christ.

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Kerry Scott Baldwin is an Elder of the Pacific Union College’s Seventh-day Adventist Church.